, Volume 13, Issue 4, pp 681–697 | Cite as

Situating local biologies: Anthropological perspectives on environment/human entanglements

  • Jörg NiewöhnerEmail author
  • Margaret Lock
Original Article


In this paper, we posit the notion of ‘situated biologies’ as a conceptual contribution to the often-polarised debate over the material human body as being either local or universal. To argue our case, we briefly recapitulate the medical anthropological concept of ‘local biologies’ before highlighting current molecular biological research on epigenetics and its implications. We discuss how different forms of ‘local’ arise in environment/human entanglements and how material agency becomes situated and contingent through various knowledge practices. We conclude by developing the overarching concept of ‘situated biologies’ to further a collaborative ethnographic agenda that explores the multiple effects of particularising or universalising material agency in research on environment/human entanglements.


local biology body ethnography medical anthropology situated knowledge epigenetics 



On behalf of both authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Macmillan Publishers Ltd., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of European EthnologyHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  2. 2.IRI THESysHumboldt-Universität zu BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Emerita in Social Studies of MedicineMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada
  4. 4.Department of AnthropologyMcGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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